What we do

In the Wallet Lab, we are focused on pathogenesis of inflammation, primarily in HIV-1 infection, but also in autoimmune diseases or cancer. In addition to being the causative agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS], HIV-1 also causes a systemic immune activation characterized by persistent inflammation which leads to a number of sequelae including cardiovascular disease, end organ failure and cognitive impairment. The mechanism by which HIV-1 activates human macrophages is a major line of investigation inĀ our lab.

In addition to studying mechanisms of inflammation, we have been working on novel strategies to reduce HIV-1-induced inflammation. In particular we have capitalized on our observation that a drug designed to inhibit HIV-1 activity, the protease inhibitor nelfinavir, has direct anti-inflammatory effects on human macrophages. This novel function is attributable to induction of cell stress pathways which perturb inflammatory signaling. Recently, we have also begun studies of nelfinavir for inhibition of cancer cell growth through a similar cell stress mechanism.

Our research approach includes a number of global strategies including microarrays, deep sequencing and proteomics, but we also use basic molecular biology and protein biochemistry methods to tease out specific biological mechanisms.